Here’s how to make the app even more personal.

By Liz Steelman
Updated August 12, 2016
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Snapchat app
Credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Getty Images

Whether you love or hate the smartphone app, Snapchat has grown in popularity with people of all ages since its launch in September 2011. Businesses, advertisers, and media publications have all tapped into the platform’s potential with filter advertisements and the newly released Discover section. But the general public is still using it mostly to share silly, disappearing pictures with friends.

If you’re familiar with the app, you know you can already use Snapchat GeoFilters—filters that are only available within specific geographical coordinates—to let friends know where you are in the world. What you might not know is that anyone can design a filter and submit it to Snapchat for approval.

There are two different types of GeoFilters you can design. If you’re creating a more community-driven filter, for a city or a school for example, you can design one (without hashtags or brand logos) for free. If you’re designing one for a business or a special event, like a wedding or a birthday party, you can purchase GeoFilters that allow logos and trademarks in the design.

Up until recently, you had to design your own filter or pay someone to design it for you. But Snapchat recently released a new tool on its website that easily creates on-demand filters using customizable templates. Simply pick what the occasion fits under—birthdays, celebrations, or weddings—and you’re given themed templates to customize. Currently there are 42 templates to choose from: 14 for birthdays, 15 for celebrations, and 13 for weddings. You can customize each template’s color palette, add extra text, and upload photos.

If you’re trying to schedule a GeoFilter for an upcoming event, be aware that there is a one day lead time when scheduling, meaning you cannot upload a design for same-day use. And, unfortunately, there is not a blank template that you can fully customize with the online tool. If you want to do that, you will have to design your filter yourself using Illustrator or Photoshop.

If you choose to go that route, here are the requirements:

  1. Create a design that’s 1080 x 1920 pixels in size.
  2. Save it as a web-optimized PNG file under 300 KB.
  3. Fill in a few personal details, like your name and email address. Then, select a date, time, and the geographical coordinates you’d like your filter to cover.
  4. Wait for Snapchat’s approval. (Note: Snapchat does not provide a timeline for the submission process, so it’s best to send in your design as early as possible.)

Snapchat also offers downloadable templates in both Illustrator and Photoshop files to customize and upload. For more guidelines on how to submit your own filter, click here.

All filters are priced based on the size of the geographical area and the duration of your event. Snapchat does not provide pricing guidelines, but the cost for your event will appear in the top left hand corner of the screen during the submittal process. When using the tool, we found that 549,142 square feet running for 10 hours would cost about $115. If you’re a business and would like to have your filter for at least a year, you can purchase an annual plan at an almost 75 percent discount. Just select the longest available duration on the selection page, and the yearly option will display at checkout.

If you don’t want to spend time creating your own filter (or don’t know where to begin), there are a few services that will design one for you. Makeshake, a new online marketplace, sells pre-designed filters that cost between $22 and $30. Several Etsy shops also offer customizable GeoFilters for weddings and other special occasions.